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From nihilism to nothingness: A comparison of Nietzschean and Daoist thought



Katrin Froese* The nihilistic undertones of late modem and contemporary European philosophy are reflective of a world in which metaphysical horizons are rapidly collapsing. Nietzsche's infamous proclamation that "God is dead" marks the end of a metaphysical era in which a single order underpins all of existence. While Nietzsche is cognizant of the widespread despair that "God's" death might usher in, he inveighs against the notion that meaning depends on certainty and argues that participation in the dynamic movement of life is more conducive to a meaningful existence. He rebels against philosophies which invoke a transcendent realm of permanence to denigrate and devalue the flux of life, arguing that this is the nihilistic act par excellence. In Tuik'ght of the Idols, Nietzsche notes that philosophers have a propensity to proclaim life worthless (Nietzsche 1968e: 1.1) and are infected with a pervasive "weariness with life" (Nietzsche 1968e: 1.1). The term nihilism has negative connotations in the West, precisely because of the grip that metaphysical truths have had on the Western psyche. Yet, one should guard against simply equating nihilism with an awareness of nothingness. Nihilism refers to a world stripped of its meaning. In this guise, nihilism often reflects



DaoSpringer Journals

Published: Dec 1, 2004

DOI: 10.1007/BF02871085

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